By Don Tartaglione
The pro-business U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform released its latest survey today that gauges which states U.S. businesses perceive to have the most "fair and reasonable" tort liability systems.
The top five states, in order from the highest-ranked, were Delaware, Nebraska, Wyoming, Minnesota and Kansas. West Virginia, Louisiana, Mississippi, California and Illinois received the lowest rankings in the study, which earlier this year surveyed more than 1,100 in-house general counsels, senior attorneys and other leaders of companies that earn at least $100 million annually.
The biennial survey, called Lawsuit Climate: 2012 State Liability Systems Survey, Ranking the States, was conducted for the Institute by the nonpartisan group Harris Interactive.
Institute President Lisa Rickard said that in large part, the survey results stem from how much a state's litigation climate affects important business decisions within that state.
"Litigation climate is an important factor…in determining whether to do business in that state," said Rickard. Deciding where to locate a business is a critical factor for potential job growth, she said.
Seventy percent of those surveyed reported that a state's litigation environment is likely to impact important business decisions at their companies. This is an increase from 67 percent in 2010 and 63 percent in 2008.
In a written statement, an official from the American Association for Justice, which represents trial lawyers, took issue with the survey's wording and methodology. Michelle Kimmel, press secretary for the group, noted that a Copley News Service story found that the "U.S. Chamber's own pollster admitted that there is no way to measure the fairness of a state's legal system."
According to Kimmel, "If you want to know the truth about this survey, look no further than the source: The U.S. Chamber is a front group for multinational pharmaceutical, asbestos, and Wall Street corporations that want to undermine and eliminate America's civil justice system so they won't be held accountable for their misconduct."